DeGroote Innovative Solutions Competition helps students develop problem solving and critical thinking skills

December 16, 2021 | Hamilton, ON
Contributed by DISC co-chairs Christie Lee and Nikita Patel

Participants at the DeGroote Innovative Solutions Competition had an opportunity to speed network with partner organizations.

We connected with organizers of this year’s DeGroote Innovative Solutions Competition (DISC).

DISC 2021 was a two-day virtual case competition held November 13-14, 2021. It included teams from across Canada working on a real-world situation, team-building opportunities in a themed escape room and speed networking with partner organizations.

We asked DISC co-chairs Christie Lee and Nikita Patel about this year’s experience. For them, this event was also about connecting with other students across Canada and helping them build their professional networks.


Why is it important for students to participate in case competitions like DISC?

Our world is continuously evolving to be more digital, and we see these advancements in our everyday lives. We want to ensure that the next generation of business leaders are equipped with the problem solving and critical thinking skills to take a lead in the future of digitization. Case competitions like DISC are a great opportunity to provide students with real-world situations and challenge them to think at a greater scope. With industry leaders as judges, the students get feedback and insight into best-practices and skills that can be carried on throughout their careers.


The DeGroote Innovative Solutions Competition is a first of its kind, virtual case competition. What sets this competition apart from others?

As the pandemic progressed, many case competitions in 2020 were cancelled or delayed. DISC quickly shifted to the flexibility of an online event to offer MBA and graduate students across Canada the platform to showcase their creativity and problem-solving skills in front of industry leaders. In its inaugural year in 2020, DISC participants were required to present storyboarding/prototyping elements within their presentations to demonstrate the tangibility of their solutions – this is rarely a requirement in other major case competitions in the country. In 2021, participants continued to bring forth storyboards and mock-ups of applications and software to visualize their recommendations to the judging panels (despite the official requirement being relaxed).

DeGroote School of Business Dean Khaled Hassanein kicked off the DeGroote Innovative Solutions Competition

Tell us a bit about the case writers and what inspired them to create the case they did?

Case writers were recruited from the DeGroote student body based on their experience, interest and capabilities. Lead Case Writer Christopher Pimentel is a second-year MBA full-time student at DeGroote with a background in journalism. Associate Case Writer Viral Bheda is a second-year MBA co-op student at DeGroote who has worked extensively in digital marketing. He has previously developed business cases under the guidance of faculty for an independent study project.

The subject, details and direction of the case are provided through the platinum sponsor organization Schneider Electric. Writers conduct informational meetings to understand the challenges that the organization is facing and work towards building the story in alignment with DISC’s themes and objectives. This year’s focus was ‘The Great Resignation’ – the difficulties of recruiting, retaining and maintaining talent within an organization.


How important is it for students to have opportunities to engage and network with sponsor/partner organizations and industry professionals?

Our goal is to always provide students with the opportunities to network with leaders in various fields across Canada. We tried to keep our scope of sponsors wide so that there were a diverse group of industry professionals that the participants could engage with. Some of the key benefits of networking are gaining new insights, exchanging advice, and helping students gain growth in their self-confidence.


Congratulations to the DeGroote Innovative Solutions Competition winners

The winning teams brought forward excellent technology-based solutions that were both realistic and feasible for the platinum sponsor to adopt. They paid careful attention to the details of their implementation plans clearly outlining the timelines, costs/benefits and risk mitigation strategies.

1st Place: Cornerstone Consulting from Asper School of Business at University of Manitoba

2nd Place: True North Consultants from DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University

3rd Place: Libertas Consulting from John Molson School of Business at Concordia University


Special thanks to the DISC Steering Committee

  • Dr. Milena Head, Professor of Information Systems and Academic Director of the EMBA program
  • Jennifer McCleary, Director, Student Experience
  • Susan Mitchell, Director of Finance and Administration

Our Steering Committee has been instrumental in our success – they serve as mentors during the planning process and act as liaisons to DeGroote leadership for decision making.

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